Windows 8 Versions Explained

Using the traditional Windows release approach, Microsoft has recently announced the upcoming versions of their next generation operating system, Windows 8. Unlike Mac OS X, Windows has several more versions to pick from. For example, Windows 7 versions ranged from the basic Starter and Home Premium up to Ultimate. Will Windows 8 continue the same version pattern as 7?

Windows 7 Versions

The answer is, not this time around. Microsoft has recently released their new version branding for Windows 8, which will come in three flavors, but they won’t be Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. Rather, Windows 8 will be available in the following three editions:

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows RT

Win8 Features

Win8 Features 2

Win8 Features 3

Win8 Features 4

Although a bit different, the Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT branding is actually quite simple. Windows 8, of course will be the standard version of Windows that will likely ship with the majority of PCs. Alternatively, Windows 8 Pro, of course, will be the high end version of Windows that offers the most features, marketed towards professional Windows users that need things like BitLocker, Boot from VHD, Client Hyper-V, etc…

However, what is this Windows RT stuff? According to Microsoft:

Windows RT is the newest member of the Windows family – also known as Windows on ARM or WOA, as we’ve referred to it previously. This single edition will only be available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors and will help enable new thin and lightweight form factors with impressive battery life. Windows RT will include touch-optimized desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. For new apps, the focus for Windows RT is development on the new Windows runtime, or WinRT, which we unveiled in September and forms the foundation of a new generation of cloud-enabled, touch-enabled, web-connected apps of all kinds.  For more details on WOA, we suggest reading this blog post which shares more detail on how we have been building Windows 8 to run on the ARM architecture.

So basically, RT is a dedicated version of Windows for ARM and WOA. ARM processors and architecture, of course, are less common in basic computers and more prevalent in electronics such as smartphones, tablets and servers. So, from a traditional, consumer standpoint, most people will likely not use Windows RT, unless running a Windows based tablet, smartphone or possibly an ultra thin notebook. Additionally, as noted by the chart, Windows RT includes Microsoft Office.

For most computer based applications, there will be the options of Windows 8 and Windows 8 pro, as listed above. Here are the features that Windows 8 Pro offers over the standard Windows version (simplified from the chart above):

  • Upgrades from Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate
  • BitLocker and BitLocker To Go
  • Boot from VHD
  • Client Hyper-V
  • Domain Join
  • Encrypting File Service
  • Group Policy
  • Remote Desktop (host)

Mainly, the additional features offered by the professional version are business oriented, and most everyday computer users would never use any of the features in the above list.

Another change with Windows 8 will be Media Center integration. With previous versions of Windows, Microsoft has included Media Center as a free feature of the operating system. With Windows 8, however, the company is dropping out of the box support and integration for Media Center. You will still be able to have the latest Media Center software with Windows 8, but it will be a separate, add-on style software that Microsoft will market separately. In simpler words, Media Center will not be included in Windows 8. If you want WMC, you have to purchase it also, in addition to 8. Here is a basic flow chart describing the WMC add-on:

Windows 8 Media Center Pack

Official pricing for Windows 8 and the Media Center upgrades have not yet been released. I support Microsoft’s decision to market the Media Center software separately from the operating system, as not everyone uses Media Center. However, I do believe that the Windows 8 operating system, in respects, should be priced cheaper to make up for the exclusion of the popular HTPC software.

On a similar note, Microsoft has recently marketed the Xbox 360 + Kinect bundle for a low price of $99.00 USD. However, to get the 360 at this price, you must sign up for a 24-month contact for Xbox Live, with a standard price of $15.00 USD per month. Many everyday consumers and tech experts alike have easily determined the cost to be around $459.00 USD. So, this so called deal is not a very good choice. Considering purchasing the Xbox for $99.00 USD and cancelling your monthly contact? Microsoft has placed a $250.00 USD cancellation fee on that.

Thank you for stopping by the site for today’s post, which hopefully gave you a sneak peak of what Windows 8 editions will be like. Do you like the new Windows 8 structure? Feel free to leave a comment.

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Comments [2]

  1. Ratnakar says:

    How can I upgrade my OS from “Windows7 Ultimate” to “Windows 8 Pro” ?

  2. Winn3r says:

    Oh well… will wait for Windows 9.

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